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‘LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League: Cosmic Clash’ - Film Review

What do you do when you have a compulsive need to catalog and collect all the planets in the universe, and the slot on your alphabetized shelf between “Db” and “Ea” is woefully empty?  You head for Earth, of course.  And, if you are a super-intelligent (albeit insane) extraterrestrial android named Brainiac, you won’t expect anyone or anything to be able to stop you.

Other than the Justice League, of course.

In the latest LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes movie to hit video stands, the Justice League and Brainiac indeed have an epic “Cosmic Clash” over just this scenario.  As the movie opens, we find Justice League engaged in some serious training and skills honing…otherwise known as playing hide-and-go-seek.  Superman wraps up the exercise in short order, using his vast array of skills to zero in on the last remaining hider.  Cyborg learns the hard way just how impractical an invisible jet that doesn’t conceal its occupants really is (with apologies to Wonder Woman).

Cue Brainiac’s arrival and the whole team swings into action for an easy and immediate victory.  Assumptions of lasting peace are quickly obliterated, however, as Brainiac survives to fight another day…or the same day, as seems to be the case here.  Cue temporal anomalies, time machine treadmills, dinosaurs, sharks, pirates, and Batman on roller-skates.  And, a super awesome “Mecha-Leaguer” that would give any Megazord you can think of a good run for its money.  Long story short…it falls to Batman to rescue his fellow Leaguers by demonstrating just how well he knows and understands them all.

As is frequently the case with the LEGO Justice League movies, the under-riding theme has to do with Batman’s ability to interact with the rest of the team on more than a “get-the-job-done” level.  In Cosmic Clash, the specific question is whether Batman sees his teammates as mere coworkers or as actual friends.  Because, as we all know, Batman doesn’t need friends. The Dark Knight walks alone.

Likewise, Cosmic Clash’s best moments generally feature Batman in some way, whether it’s one of the numerous “Batman”-based puns, or the fact that no matter what situation he’s in, Batman always has a super-specific “Bat-Outfit” for the occasion.  He’s also one of the more complex and fully fleshed out characters in the LEGO movie universe.  Funny, but capable; confident, but self-sacrificing; impatient, but inevitably loyal and reliable.  The straight man in a cast that is chock full of Larrys, Moes, and Curlys.

The weak moments in Cosmic Clash are all about these single-note characters who drive home the same basic joke over and over and over.  Supergirl, more cheerleader than super hero, seems to only exist to giggle and blurt out badly rhyming cheers.  A group of prehistoric cavewomen spend their screen time grunting like pigs (literally) and screaming at any man who dares show his face. 

That being said, Cosmic Clash is a non-stop joke-fest in the best LEGO-movie tradition.  Puns abound, Green Lantern is lovingly mocked (Brainiac correctly identifies his super-power as “Super Jewelry.”), and the creators do a deft job of spoofing the upcoming Batman V Superman at every opportunity. 

And, the adult viewer does well to remember that we are not exactly the target audience.  To that end, I have to confess that my 9-year-old son’s favorite moments were those same repetitive, rudimentary jokes that I started to find tiring by the end of the movie.  He delighted in Supergirl’s cheers (repeating many of them for days afterwards, to my continued “entertainment”), found Brainiac’s tics and oddities hilarious, and The Flash’s frat boy mentality uproariously entertaining.  So, who am I, in my middle-aged judgment, to complain?

Last modified on Wednesday, 26 December 2018 18:50

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